A major day for all of us today. We are going to the Leon church first. This is where the Missouri team is raising for to build their youth sports complex. From there we go to Pocochuape where the Wisconsin Youth Sports Complex will be built. Finally, we will go to the Managua church. This is Brian Weed's home church and the first church he planted in Nicaragua!
But first we made a stop at a boiling mud field that is super-heated by Telica Volcano about 2 miles away.
Totally Huge Day For Me! Today we rode into Pocochuape! This is where Wisconsin Youth Sports Complex will be Built! I have spent the last year following a vision that God gave to me to raise funds for this sports complex!
After this beautiful moment we continued on to the Managua church where we were welcomed by a raucous crowd blowing noisemakers!
A daybreak stroll through the the grounds of El Pantano Hotel Y Restaurante in Jalapa. Not exactly Comfort Inn but WAY more interesting! Being serenaded by chickens, goats, cows and songbirds - all music to my ears.
Finally found the snooze button for this morning's alarm clock.
Security is tight!
I have long considered myself the most blessed man on the planet. This understanding didn't begin until after I surrendered my life to Jesus back in 1993. As my relationship with Jesus grew so did my understanding of my purpose here on earth.
Don't get me wrong, I continually fail to achieve my purpose because of personal selfishness and lack of focus on eternal things. Getting outside of my comfort zone and experiencing the reality of 80% of the rest of the world is good for the soul. These pictures are from the neighborhood just outside of these hotels gates. It makes me wonder what I'm going to complain about today. What about you?
A couple more goat pictures from our hotel this morning. I like the big daddy walking past the bathrooms.
First stop of the day was to go back to the Jalapa Church to visit the children in school. Paul Leamon fully engaged the kids during their English class by drawing animals on the whiteboard and having them call out the name in English. It was beautiful to watch.
I got to play some little volleyball, soccer and basketball with the kids on their version of a youth sports complex.
2nd stop of the day was at Rancho Nicaragua - a self-sustaining farm created by the church. Very cool!
3rd stop of the day was at the Pueblo Nuevo church. We were greeted warmly and given a Ride Extreme baseball cap!
Today is a huge day. Today we crossed into Nicaragua!
Some shots of the border crossing from Honduras into Nicaragua.
Just a random sky shot while parked this afternoon in Ocatal, Nicaragua.
We made it to Jalapa, Nicaragua and were greeted with a 4 motorcycle escort. 8 of the youth from the Jalapa church (on 4 motorcycles) met us about 10 miles outside of town and led us in into town in the dark.
They gave us each Nicaragua flags to stick to our bikes. It became dark before we hit town but we still drove through all of the main streets beeping, hootin' and hollerin'! It was a blast!
They gave us a very nice reception at the church. What a blessing it is to be a blessing to the fine young people!
The young guy with me in front of of the banner is Rey. He recognized me from my two previous trips down here. Literally melted my heart talking with him. Thank you Lord!
We got to the motel well after dark. This is literally the view from my motel window tonight:-) Fortunately, I love goats!
Real funny God! Perhaps you could be a little more subtle:-) Other than the lack of safety it was effective in warming the water for a much needed shower.
The 4-5 hour ride across El Salvador went well but reality finally arrived. It is very hot and humid at the lower elevations. Today gave us much of what we expected for much of the trip.
Driving through El Salvador made me a little sad. A guy at the border told me that he went to the states in 1989 because of the civil war in his country. El Salvador probably wasn't a jewel back then either but it is apparent the country hasn't recovered. You see signs for resorts along the ocean, but at least for an American, there are so many better and easier choices that they don't stand a chance for our dollars.
Had 3 hours to kill getting through the El Salvador/ Honduras border. You see a lot of people working very hard just to subsist.
I made the comment today that driving through Latin America is like experiencing a mash up of 1880, 1931, 1971, 1989, and the present all at once. You can see someone sitting next to the road on their smartphone, waiting to be picked up by a tricked out 1989 bus, with cows and pigs grazing on the roadside nearby while a farmer heads up to his fields in a horse drawn cart.
Honduras has been a bit more wild you might say. There are some oxymorons all around. The poverty is palpable. There is trash everywhere. That isn't exactly a new experience as we travel but it is everywhere here. Weirdly, the houses themselves look larger and better constructed but there is nothing but dirt, trash, dried out vegetation as far as the eye can see.
There is money coming in from somewhere though. We must have rode through 60 miles of highway and infrastructure upgrades.
My friend Mike Kurtz said this in a post, "As Wild West and as fun as Guatemala was, El Salvador seemed like the snooty little sister, little up tight, people seems to follow some laws when driving and took more pride in their appearance of themselves and their country. Of course we stayed out of the big cities that might change there.
Honduras is like the lazy uncle that has his hand out all the time looking for a little money for doing nothing, and we gladly pay just so we can cut through his backyard."
Some pictures from the motel we stayed in last night in Esquilinta, Guatamala. Charming but pretty rustic - unless you really like cold water showers.
Well, today kind of went as we thought it would. We rode for about 75 minutes to the Guatamala/ El Salvador border. That portion of the ride actually reminded me of riding in Wisconsin on a very warm day. A lot of agricultural scenery and tree lined roads. The mountains were much shorter but very present. I said it would be just like Wisconsin if you added rolling hills, corn crops, and the occasional whiff of cow crap.
Then we got to the border....
I can’t be disappointed because it went like we were told it would. It took 5 hours for all of us to clear. The most bothersome part is just how silly the bureaucracy is. I'm not going to waste your time time describing it but it could be done in an hour - easy :-)
Today was a short ride, but a long time crossing the border into El Salvador. A major tip of the hat to Sharrell White Atkins for scoring a nice place in the middle of nowhere in El Salvador. Believe it or not we are at a "beach resort" that requires a wristband.
It is actually on the river but about a 5 minute walk to the Pacific. The beach isn't very inviting but very interesting.
The odometer shows we have gone 2,244 miles so far. Tomorrow will be a beating as we have a long ride starting at 7am to the Honduras border. We will cross and see how far we get. We expect to be riding 5-6 hours tomorrow. Today we finally hit the muggy heat that we expected. My sweat was sweating, but the pool felt nice.
We spent the morning (Sunday) here at The Eagle's Nest. Larry and Claire Boggs used to be able to take the children in and care for their needs as they worked towards an adoptive home for them. The government no longer allows them to put them up for adoption so they simply care for them now. There are 35 kids here at the time.
Many years ago God opened up a door for them to be able to buy The Eagles Nest. It was envisioned as a time share a long time ago but was never completed. The Boggs' were able to buy it and over many, many years brought it to this state. It is hard to see through the overcast but it overlooks the city of Solala. There is a huge lake down there, and if you blow up the pictures a bit, you will see the outline of a volcano on the right. These pictures are of The Eagle's Nest and some of the landscape. The real beauty is found in their mission which is found after these pictures.
Some of the landscape beauty on the grounds.
What a great work the Bogg's have done, and are doing, here at Eagle's Nest. I made a few new friends in a walk through the onsite orphanage. Santiago gets a starring role for almost jumping into my arms.
Here is a walk through the onsite school. I love that they were studying Respect!
Living quarters for the older kids.
What this ride is all about. This is the Eagle's Nest youth sports complex. This is what we want to build all over Nicaragua!
The chicken coop. Even the chickens serve Jesus here!
We have a short ride scheduled today, only about 80 miles, so that we are in position to cross the border into El Salvador tomorrow morning. I am writing this upon my return from the whole trip so I can definitively say that crossing Guatamala was my favorite part of the trip - other than being met at all of the churches in Nicaragua. Here are some assorted pictures of the afternoon ride.
We stopped along the way at Manna Worldwide Headquarters in Guatamala. Great opportunity for a few pictures.
So here are a couple of observations from an ordained deplorable. We went through a rigorous process when crossing the border into Mexico about 7 days ago. I have little doubt that it will be equally challenging as we leave and cross into Guatamala this morning. I am not offended in the least as the countries uphold their laws and protect their sovereignty.
You know what else I "discovered" during 7 days of riding through Mexico on a motorcycle? The same thing I "discovered" each time I have traveled to Mexico in the past 15 years. This is that Mexican people in general are among the most polite, considerate, kind and hardworking people you will find anywhere. I am thankful that God has allowed me so many opportunities to love, and to be loved, by these wonderful people!
I walked over to the Oxxo next to the hotel at 5:40 this morning for coffee. I took these two pictures. The vans/busses were literally lined up for blocks loading people up for work. They were all chatting it up amongst each other as they began their day. It was a blessing to walk through.
Kickstands up in an hour as we head into Guatemala. A new level of adventure awaits!
Today we crossed into Guatamala and experienced what many had warned about when going through customs and immigration. It took us at least 4 hours going through 3 different buildings. Everyone was pleasant (I think) as we went through.
The pictures attached to this post are all from the border area. It is kind of a zoo. Very narrow roads with all of the activity of New York City.
These pictures are from gas stops throughout the day. I will try to describe the sights and activities of the day but it is really impossible. Let's start with the incredibly sheer mountains found in the first half of the journey. They almost seemed like vertical faces as we rode through. I couldn't help thinking how terrible it would be to be a young boy playing catch with a baseball here. Every missed catch would result in a 2 day hike down to the base of the mountain to retrieve your ball.
The other thing way different thing than Mexico was the amount of villages/towns along the roadway. We encountered towns every 15-30 minutes as we drove. There is obviously a shortage of vehicles or the money to buy them. There are people walking everywhere - oftentimes with impossible loads strapped to there backs. Those that aren't walking are loaded up in groups of 4-10 in the backs of trucks. Usually standing up as the buzz through the mountains.
A couple of unusual (and fairly common in their oddity) sights of the day. My favorite was an about 8 year old girl walking her giant sow on a leash. The other was the apparently normal activity of men relieving themselves on the shoulder of the highway.
We arrived after dark but were graciously welcomed by our hosts for the night, Larry and Claire Boggs. They have been missionaries in Guatemala for more than 40 years. They came here to grow and plant churches (16 of them so far) but God called them to minister to the "lost and unwanted" children of Guatemala. More on this tomorrow morning.
We ended the day by being taken to dinner in Solala by the Boggs'. The Eagle's Nest is nestled into the mountainside about 2 miles above Solala. We all loaded into their van and zig-zagged our way down the mountain for about a half an hour until we came to this fabulous restaurant. What a great way to end the day!
I get a starring role in the first 10 seconds of this video compiled by Mike Kurtz. I am the guy dressed like Johnny Cash - all black. My thanks to Mike for the extra hours he has put into creating and editing video on this trip!
I don't have pictures from the first half of today's journey but they couldn't do it justice anyway. Tabasco state is a better motorcycle ride than the mountains of Tennessee. There, I said it!
To say it is mountainous is like saying saying the Sahara Desert is sandy. Think mountains on steroids. Mini peaks everywhere ranging from 6,000-9,000 feet. It is an agricultural area with animals and crops hanging onto a 45 degree slope. It was unusual to see big old cows grazing in terrain that would startle Bighorn Sheep.
Just an aside for those that know me. Throughout the last few days we have seen goat herders tending their flocks right along the roadside. As a matter of fact, it must be totally legal to graze all kinds of animals roadside. We've seen goats, sheep, cows and horses there.
We have landed in Comitan De Dominguez for the night before crossing over into Guatamala tomorrow. I can't wait to describe the day's ride a little later but I must first give props to the planning committee of Jeffrey and Sharrell White Atkins. Grand slams day after day.
I am told this hotel was the second choice. It has a flaw or two but they lose their punch amidst semi-rustic charm of the place. I will revel in the gift!
These pictures were taken in the second half of today's journey in Chiappas state. I am still shocked that we have spent 95% of the time in the mountains at high altitude after the first 100 miles in Mexico. I am considering starting a new business doing motorcycle tours through Tabasco and Chiappas states in Mexico. Absolutely stunning vistas.
These pictures were taken at a stop along the way. The little shops and people both left me with a smile.
Took a little stroll around Comitan De Dominguez with Gary Wilson and Gary Miller. Barely touched the surface of interesting things to see.
The video in the link below has been known to shock many people. I have to admit that it was a bit risky but probably saved us from sitting in traffic for 45 minutes. We named this Ride Extreme for a reason:-)
Today was a long day of riding. In the late afternoon we still didn't know where we were going to land and stay for the night. Sharelle Atkins, wife of Jeff Atkins, a fellow Texas rider rider, came through big-time! Her and Jeff had pretty much planned the whole trip but of course there were many variables as we rode.
You can't imagine our joy as we all rode up on this Fairfield Suites hotel right on the ocean. As a matter of fact, this is precisely where the Pacific and Caribbean meet.
Something tells me that I am really going to miss this place. Each day and night hold a special memory. The memory of Coatzcoalos will be an unlimited ocean view, a truly outstanding "Mexican pizza", and the best shower and bed. These things combined led to a little more than 7 hours of continuous sleep!
Today we ride to the Mexico/Guatemala border before crossing over tomorrow morning. Mexico has been more rustic than third world feeling. I have little doubt these perceptions will change beginning tomorrow.
That portion of the ride will certainly help me to refocus on the purpose of Ride Extreme. Our mission is to carry love and hope to those that may not have any. We will join them, as best we can, in their poverty. In the end we will give them needed "stuff" (Youth Sports Complexes) but even these are just "things" if not delivered in love. Today as I ride I will think about Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 13.